Out-of-sorts Carlton defender Liam Jones has been urged to channel club legend Bruce Doull if he is charged with the unenviable task of manning West Coast spearhead Josh Kennedy at the MCG on Saturday.
Fit-again Kennedy starred with five goals in the Eagles’ 80-point hammering of Gold Coast last week in his first game on return from a knee injury.
The dual Coleman medalist shapes one of many threats to the winless Blues’ chances of registering their first points of the season after four straight defeats.
Jack Darling and back-up ruckman Scott Lycett could pose further problems for the Blues, who are desperately trying to plug holes in defence.
Backmen Sam Docherty (knee), Sam Rowe (knee), Caleb Marchbank (ankle), Ciaran Byrne (quad), Alex Silvagni (hamstring) and Tom Williamson (back) are all unavailable.
Jones won plenty of plenty of plaudits after being swung into defence last season, but has not been able to have the same impact so far in 2018.
Carlton great Robert Walls, who won VFL premierships as a player and coach, said a tactic regularly employed by his champion former teammate Doull could be a valuable starting point for Jones in his bid to bounce back to form.
“Liam Jones got a lot of pats on the back last year and I just thought hang on, just be careful, because I just thought it was a bit of an overreaction,” Walls told AFL Tonight on Monday.
“He’s got to go back and just play shoulder-to-shoulder on his opponent.
“He’s playing 10m in front and he’s getting lost. Good teams will expose him and exploit him, which they’ve done.
“He’s got to go back and play hand across his opponent – the old Bruce Doull style if you like.
“Forwards don’t like that. Forwards love it when they’re given freedom.
“He’s just lost the ability to play tight on an opponent and that’s the No.1 thing you should do as a defender. I hope that he does that.”
Walls also urged Carlton coach Brendon Bolton to try moving some of the jigsaw pieces in a bid to get the best out of misfiring youngsters Jacob Weitering and Jack Silvagni.
“Weitering has really struggled this year. His confidence is gone,” Walls said.
“I saw him against Collingwood, he was looking back to see where his opponent was and he wasn’t attacking the football.
“Jack Silvagni has really been struggling up forward as well. Why not switch roles?
“Weitering has played up forward and done OK. It would be good for Jacob Weitering to go forward and just attack the footy and let an opponent worry about it.
“I’d like to see Jack Silvagni play as a defender because his (30) games have all been in the front half.”
Walls stressed he was a fan of Bolton and the club’s direction, being driven by the third-year coach and list manager Stephen Silvagni.
But he said he switched off at three-quarter time of Carlton’s embarrassing defeat to North Melbourne, in which they kicked just four goals in the lowest score ever registered at Blundstone Arena.
“I thought for my own health I’ve got to go to bed, so I did go. When I saw the paper the next day I saw I didn’t miss much,” Walls said.
“That was a shocking performance, probably their worst in about three years.
“They’ve had two bad ones in a row and all of a sudden the pressure is on the club and on the coach.”